Washington blizzard incident exemplifies the importance of proper text message alerts

As this blog has mentioned in the past, organizations communicating via bulk sms messages need to be certain the information they are sending is accurate and is sent at an appropriate time.

The more recipients attached to a single message, the greater level of pressure placed on the individual or company sending it. Any mistake will only be heightened by the number of people who see it. Any inconvenient messages will come back tenfold when a large group of users complain.

In Western Washington, a message went out to a number of mobile device users, informing them of inclement weather on the horizon.

The message read as follows:

"Blizzard warning this area until 6:00 PST Mon. Prepare. Avoid Travel. Check media. – NWS"

Normally, this would be a perfectly acceptable message to send to people in order to keep them out of harm's way. Unfortunately, the message was sent at different times throughout the night. Users reported receiving the message at 2 pm, then also getting it at 5 am and 7 am the following morning.

This caused a bit of a panic because it either woke some people up who otherwise would have been sleeping or it gave recipients a bit of a fright when they awoke the following morning and checked their phones. It also turns out, they weren't even in any real danger.

The message was a part of an innovative service that automatically sends out emergency text messages to people, even if they don't sign up for such a service. Many mobile phones today are equipped with a chip that allows users to receive these messages automatically. They don't affect text messaging rates and they are location based.

The organization behind the Wireless Emergency Alerts program relayed this message to those within a specified radius of the inclement weather. Unfortunately, the storm was actually occurring on top of the Cascade and Olympic mountains, and no one at ground level was in any kind of danger. Instead, cell phone users were woken up with a false alarm.

This shows that some text message programs still need a little work. Organizations sending automatic text alerts should ensure they follow best practices and send out messages in a timely manner without inconveniencing any user. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to launch an alert service that is both effective and follows all standard guidelines.